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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
in their own words

“A bomb came and frightened us”: Syrian children reveal fears of violence, kidnapping and child marriage

Over a million children have fled the country since the start of the conflict three years ago.

(World Vision)

SYRIAN CHILDREN WHOSE families have fled the three-year-old conflict in the Middle Eastern nation have spoken of their fears of violence, bullying, financial insecurity and child marriage in a new report compiled by the charity World Vision.

The report — which was written and researched by children — found that 86 per cent of the 10- to 17- year-olds who participated had been exposed to violence since settling in their new communities in Jordan and Lebanon.

“We fled the flames of war, only to find ourselves surrounded by danger, explosions, kidnapping, and theft,” the children wrote.

“We are unable to live peacefully. We live in constant fear that something will happen and affect our life or hurt us.

The research was conducted in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, and Irbid, Jordan between January and February. 140 children identified their most urgent problems and provided recommendations to help solve them through group discussions and interviews.

imagePeace activist Malala Yousafzai speaks with 16-year-old Mzoun Mlihan, a Syrian refugee from Daraa city, during her visit to Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan [Mohammad Hannon/AP/PA Images]

The findings were written up by a small group of writers elected among the children. The video above features contributions from the children who took part in the research — and aside from the translation from Arabic to English, their words have not been altered.

Entitled ‘Our Uncertain Future’, the report references child marriage and bullying as key concerns. It also mentions racism and sectarianism.

The authors say: We would never have known the meaning of these words if it were not for this crisis.”

Some girls have been forced into early marriage against their will… this is the case of many girls who have lost their childhood and their dreams, to carry the burdens and worries of a new family that they do not know how to build and manage.

Our fears grow day by day that the war will rage on, that destruction will intensify, and that we will lose many of our friends and relatives who are still under fire in Syria. What we fear most is our uncertain future. We are afraid we may never go home.

The charity is presenting today’s report to governments worldwide, urging them to listen to the calls made.

It’s three years this week since the Syrian conflict began. According to the UN over a million Syrian children have fled the country for safety since March 2011, and three million children remain displaced inside the country.

Read: This video of a fictional civil war in the West is the daily reality for children in Syria>

Read: Latest round of Irish humanitarian funding for Syrian crisis announced>

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